The Preakness Stakes committee decided the post positions for the nine-horse field on Wednesday afternoon, and the 2013 Run for the Black-Eyed Susans will be the 138th such race at Pimlico Race Course.
Preakness Stakes on Twitter posted the draw after things were announced on Wednesday:
Preakness Stakes @PreaknessStakes
@PreaknessStakes the 138th draw http://t.co/dL6WHfi2155/15/2013, 10:18:33 PM
All eyes will be on Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who drew the No. 1 post position on Wednesday and will look to take the second step toward becoming just the 12th horse to pull off the three-race summer sweep and win the Triple Crown.
Anyone can win the Derby. It takes a true champion to survive the tactical race at Pimlico.
With only two more days until post time at the track, here's a look at the post positions, current odds, a preview and a few predictions for the money for the 138th Preakness Stakes.
2013 Preakness Stakes Layout
|1||Orb||Joel Rosario||Claude McGaughey||1-1|
|2||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||8-1|
|3||Titletown Five||Julien Leparoux ||D. Wayne Lukas||30-1|
|4||Departing||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Albert M. Stall Jr.||6-1|
|5||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||5-1|
|6||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||15-1|
|7||Will Take Charge||Mike Smith||D. Wayne Lukas||12-1|
|8||Govenor Charlie||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||12-1|
|9||Itsmyluckyday||John Velazquez||Eddie Plesa Jr. ||10-1|
* Current odds can be found at DRF.com.
2013 Preakness Stakes Preview
As mentioned before, all eyes will be on Orb.
The Derby winner has now won five straight races, breezed to the Derby victory after storming back around the final turn and has impressed viewers at Pimlico yet again with his ability to gallop the track with ease.
Weather conditions are not expected to have a profound affect on the track in a negative way on Saturday afternoon, and that could loosen up Orb—and the rest of the field—toward a fast track at this race.
With only nine horses in play, this race is up for grabs.
Orb is the even money favorite so far with 1-1 odds and has done nothing at Pimlico to stop jockey Joel Rosario, trainer "Shug" McGaughey or any of his supporters from giving him the nod atop the favorites list when the gates open up.
That being said, this is not the Derby. The conditions will be better, the emphasis on avoiding a bad start is more of a factor without the ability to lurk in the teens during the first part of the race, and post position No. 1 has not produced a Derby winner since 1994 (Tabasco Cat). Before that, 1961 was the last post-1 winner.
The rest of the field will take notice of that trend.
Specifically, Goldencents (2), one of the Derby favorites, Oxbow (6) and Will Take Charge (7) have to love the draws they got on Wednesday. Mylute (5) and Itsmyluckyday (9) probably aren't concerned with the draw so far, either.
Goldencents, jockeyed by Kevin Krigger, will again look to make century-old history at Pimlico. It had been 111 years since an African American won the Derby, but it's been 115 (1898) since one won the Preakness (Willie Simms, h/t USA Today).
Elsewhere, Oxbow will have history on his side as post No. 6 has the most wins since 1908 (15), and Will Take Charge can sleep easy knowing that three of the last nine winners have come from post No. 7. Itsmyluckyday is in post No. 9, where I'll Have Another won his second leg of the Crown here in 2012.
New horses to the field include Titletown Five (3), Departing (4) and Govenor Charlie (8), all of which will come into the Preakness with fresh legs after sitting out the Derby. Titletown Five makes for the third D. Wayne Lukas-trained horse in the field, while Bob Baffert gets a Preakness horse in play with Govenor Charlie.
Departing, winner of the Illinois Derby, is one of the dark-horse candidates to unseat Orb this weekend, while Mylute, Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday round out the top five for the betting pool this week.
As we saw with the Derby, anything can happen. Pimlico affords less chance for error because it is shorter in length, and that could play a major factor in how the final field looks when the last horse crosses the finish line.
Orb, the Derby champion, is riding a five-race winning streak and has all the confidence in the world heading into the Preakness Stakes.
The one downfall? His post position and the amount of horses in the race. In addition to the bad odds for Preakness winners in No. 1, Jay Privman of DRF.com had this bit of news to dissuade you from picking Orb to win the race on Saturday:
Jay Privman @DRFPrivman
This is 4th time since 2000 that Preakness field numbers 9 or fewer. In prior 3, Derby winner lost. Thx @DRFMcGee #preakness #weirdtrivia5/15/2013, 10:31:30 PM
History be darned—Orb is the best horse in this race.
Long-time racing fans will tell you (Peter Grier is among them) that the Preakness is for the best horse in the field. It's more of a sprint than the two others, and it allows the Derby champion to prove his or her win was no fluke.
Orb is that kind of horse.
Reviews at the track, including Orb's gallop of four furlongs earlier in the week, have placed this horse in rare conversation when mentioning his name. Others (like this one from the New York Times) talk about his easy speed around the track.
Chalk it up to McGaughey, his Secretariat pedigree or whatever else you want, but Orb has the look of a Preakness champ so far.
Very rarely will you see two horses next to each other in a post go 1-2 in a race, but Goldencents has a chance to correct his mistakes from Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Krigger, Doug O'Neill and Goldencents all arrived early at the track this year, following the tradition set by O'Neill last year when he brought I'll Have Another to the track early. It worked—I'll Have Another took home the Preakness title.
Goldencents will look to do the same.
If Krigger can help avoid taxing Goldencents so early at this race, the young horse will be in contention yet again. He was in the mix through three-quarters of the race at Churchill Downs, but the mud and length dropped him to No. 17 by the end of the race.
Don't expect the same thing from this horse at Pimlico. With extra work at the track, a better handling of what to expect around the corner and better overall race conditions, a fade from Goldencents would truly be the surprise of the race.
Rosie Napravnik rode Mylute to a fifth-place finish at the Derby, and so far her performance has her and her horse in position as the second-highest favorite behind Orb before posting.
Odds will change, but Mylute as a contender won't.
Claire Novak, for one, has Mylute in her WPS bets right now:
Claire Novak @BH_CNovak
I'll go w/ Mylute 2 complete #Preakness tri (Orb/Departing obvs other 2), think Itsmyluckyday will be disregarded but much better than Derby5/15/2013, 11:22:30 PM
Mylute has only won one race since its maiden win but is an automatic candidate to finish in the money and has four such finishes so far since that maiden win. With Napravnik one of the hottest jockeys in horse racing right now and the field down to nine, it would be foolish to not include Mylute in the money this week in preliminary predictions.
Experts continue to predict Mylute as a contender this week, and this horse, like Orb, has done nothing to show it's ready to take a step back after a top-five Derby finish.
The Illinois Derby winner has been the talk of the race among horses competing in the Triple Crown for the first time this season, largely because he would have been an interesting Derby competitor.
We'll get to see what we missed out on at Pimlico.
Departing's lowest career finish was a third-place run at the Louisiana Derby behind Revolutionary and Mylute, and he has been one of the more consistent horses so far during the 2012-13 season. We'll get a chance to see Brian Hernandez Jr. ride this horse on Saturday, and he'll look to avoid a letdown for Albert M. Stall Jr. at the track.
While fourth place doesn't seem like a big win, Departing's crew would likely be happy with an exacta finish. Without the experience of the Derby, he might be a little rusty when the gates open, but you can't ignore his stellar record so far.
So, there you have it. The field is set. Some predictions are in, and the race is set to post on Saturday afternoon. Do not miss the 138th Preakness Stakes, because it could lead to the 12th-ever Triple Crown winner.
Then again, it could lead to another Triple Crown failure.
So goes this event.
Follow Ethan Grant on Twitter: